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July 09, 2011


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Graham Holmes

It all sounds very familiar, John. You don't say whether the reviewers were sticking to neutral territory as a result of some political arm-twisting, or whether they were just unqualified to offer criticism. In my experience, it's usually politics. I was once told not to raise any problems at a design review because the project couldn't be allowed to fail. (In fact, the review was just a box-ticking exercise, because the product was already being deployed.) Heard that before? Of course - remember what happened to Morton Thiokol and NASA when politics stifled scientific criticism. As a designer/developer of electronics and software, I strongly believe in the review process. But if the conclusion has been reached before the review has even been planned, then you may as well take the day off. Sadly, it happens all too often.

Cor van de Water

I guess it depends on the leadership of the manager.
As long as I was managing the hardware devt team, the engineers
had better review any design thoroughly, because I know from
experience that anything you catch early costs wayyy less to
fix than letting it slide into the next phase of devt...
Eventually the customer is going to find it so you do your
darnest to avoid letting it go that far.
But that is just my humble / engineer-speaking opinion.

Frank Walker

Luckily, I haven't had the experiences you have. Although I have met my fair share of incompetent engineers... and even though I hate to generalize, most of these individuals came from schools which are extremely prestigious. Simply put: They were advanced in their career past their capabilities because they had the resume. I took the design review from a (IMHO Junior) Senior engineer as a chance to have dialog and possibly share some knowledge with the person evaluating my design.

All of us came out of school knowing eigenvalues, transforms, and the fundamentals of engineering enough to pass a test. Over the next 5-10 years we are molded into engineers, usually picked up by a mentor who is up for the challenge of growing some talent. (I myself was fortunate in this sense.)

For the most part, design reviews generated reasonable feedback and helped to bring the project together.

We all find individuals who are incompetent, lazy or simply just don't care. From my experience these people typically usually end up moving down the road to something they are actually fit for... usually managment! HA!

Jeff Furman

On occasion, I've been handed a stack of review drawings just before the review meeting; I know I can't do that review justice, regardless of my experience. Perhaps my favorite 'hot button' issue will yield some insight, but that's rolling the dice. That initial pause in a review while participants try to 'do their homework' in place is not a good sign.

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